Fingers are crossed for perfect weather this weekend as the Niagara-on-the-Lake Icewine Festival begins on Queen Street.
Nicole Cripps, of the NOTL Chamber of Commerce, which organizes the event, says the ice sculptures will be created Friday, and hopefully last through two weekends of festivities, although there is more ice on order for the second weekend.
“There will be lots of sculptures both weekends,” says Cripps. “It’s really an art form, and people love them.”
There will be 22 wineries on the street, which will be closed off from Jan. 16 to Jan. 27, and 13 restaurants serving food. Live musical entertainment and buskers are planned for both weekends, says Cripps.
So far, the weather forecast looks perfect — cold enough to keep the sculptures from melting, but mild enough to enjoy the outdoors.
Although the weather has never stopped the crowds, Cripps adds — there have been some years with snow storms and a deep freeze, but people plan ahead of time to attend and the street is always busy.
The festival kicks off with Sparkle and Ice in the Courthouse Friday night, with wine and food served inside, leading up to a toast and fireworks under the stars in the Icewine Village that is created on Queen Street.
The celebration continues on the street Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 18, 19, 25 and 26 with icewine, culinary creations, music, and the sparkling ice sculptures.
Saturday evening, Jan. 18, the Icewine Village hosts the annual Flash and Panache Icewine Competition, a favourite with locals as Signature Kitchen chefs vie to make the best cocktail creations. There is no admission charge for the event, which takes place between 9 and 11 p.m.
The 6th Annual White on Ice Dinner, Friday, Jan. 24 opens the second weekend of activities, with a different twist. This year it’s a progressive-style event, beginning with a welcome reception and hor d’oeuvres in the Grand Ballroom at the Courthouse. Guests will then be driven in groups to three different restaurants for their next three courses, with wine pairings for each course. All the groups will meet back on Queen Street in the Icewine Village for dessert and an icewine toast under the stars. Tickets are $150 per person and can be purchased online on the NOTL Chamber of Commerce website.
For information about the Niagara Icewine Discovery Pass program, which includes tastings at 30 Niagara wineries paired with local chefs’ creations, visit niagarawine